Determined to Run Out of Other People’s Money

In a breathtaking display of economic arrogance, California is considering a health care program that would appoint the state as a single payer which offers health care coverage to everyone in the state – young, old, lawful resident or not. Presumably, the plan designers have worked overtime at including every imaginable health intervention, all at full price. But they have done little work on paying for it.

The proposed California single payer plan will cost $400 billion per year. With a population of about 40 million, that means a projected health care cost of $10,000 per year per person, or $40,000 for a family of four. To fund this financial monstrosity, California says it will divert all of its share of the federal money flowing into Medicaid, Medicare and CHIPs, and will hike the tax on California payrolls by 15%. This single payer boondoggle has many supporters and they are coached to bray nonsense about “health care is a right.”

Vermont tried a single payer health plan for four years and it failed. Former Governor Shumlin claimed “the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families, and the state’s economy.”

By a margin of 80%, “Colorado voters dealt a blow to single-payer health insurance, [in] a controversial ballot initiative that would have provided medical coverage to all state residents through a payroll tax.” Perhaps thin air and healthy living foster public sanity.

New York, on the other hand, has cobbled together a Medicare For All bill that has passed the state Assembly. The bill is likely to be sidelined in the NY Senate. In New York, this latest push for single payer is taking advantage of the Hill’s ugly commotion over Obamacare’s replacement. President Trump’s austere social services budget will generate additional resentments among beneficiaries.

Single payer initiatives in California and New York will be treated on TV news as if they are the populist alternative to Congressional shrinkage of Obamacare. President Trump’s Grinch-like budget does not clarify the situation. He proposes a $4.5 trillion in “cuts” over 10 years in Medicaid, food stamps, disability benefits, welfare and student loans. The term “Cuts” is politically-loaded and it usually means a reduction in the planned increase. Nevertheless, these huge social safety net “cuts” will be postured in TV news and talk shows as the only alternative to massive spending on a single player plan.

The promotional strategy phases for California and New York single payer plans will include marches and speeches, street theater and Congressional pandering. We have seen contrived “social justice” theater before. On TV news and talk shows, single payer proponents will posit Trump’s parsimony as the scary alternative to single payer health care nirvana. In the second phase, scores of activists with inflammatory posters and jingles will be joined by paid thugs in black face masks. The paid thugs will take to the streets lighting fires, breaking windows and looking for opportunities to claim police brutality.

Their real purpose is to guarantee plentiful TV coverage. The TV slant on the street mayhem will reflect each TV station’s deep bias. In the last phase, one wing of Congress will pretend the protests are righteous support for the latest entitlement – the right to free health care.
The California and New York single payer campaign may fail, but they will create more sympathy for government taking a larger role in specifying what health services must be covered and who must pay for it.

Despite what anti-private sector bigots claim, government administration will not be more efficient than private insurance administration of health coverage. The scale of single payer expenditures and the necessary taxes to balance the program can disrupt our economy, perhaps beyond repair.

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